New details emerge about Bahamas boat explosion that killed a Chattanooga Native

(CBS NEWS) Police are still working to determine what went wrong when a boat carrying 10 U.S. tourists exploded in the Bahamas on Saturday. One person, from Chattanooga Maleka Jackson, was killed and 22-year-old Stefanie Schaffer lost both of her legs. Jackson was celebrating her 15th wedding anniversary.


A passenger told “CBS This Morning” the group of 12, including two crew members, was just a few minutes into a half-day wildlife excursion ahead of the blast. He said there was no sign of trouble before the trip turned into a nightmare, reports CBS News’ Michelle Miller.

Maleka Jackson’s father, Malvin Grimes, said she was a loving mother to her 12-year-old son and believed in giving back to her community.

“Maleka would be I guess what I call a shooting star,” Grimes said. “She had a life that kind of stayed straight on the course and it was a life that brought a lot of joy and a lot of support and love into the lives of others.”

Jackson’s husband also suffered burns and was transported to a Florida hospital Monday. A passenger aboard a nearby boat captured the chaos on his cell phone as others helped pull people from the burning vessel.

Stefanie and Brooke Schaffer were on vacation with their mother and stepfather. Relatives said Stefanie, a dancer and avid soccer player, was sitting at the back of the boat by the engine when the explosion occurred.

“Her legs, below her knees, had to be amputated,” Stefanie’s uncle, Mike Schaffer said.

He said the 22-year-old was put into a medically induced coma. Her mother Stacey also suffered a fractured leg and at least two broken ribs. Schaffer said he’s still trying to process what happened.

“Family right now is everything. So many friends are reaching out… You see this stuff on TV, but you never think it’s going to be somebody you know, and it’s my own blood, my own nieces and it’s a miracle that Stef’s even alive,” Mike said.

A GoFundMe page for the Schaffer family has raised more than $90,000. CBS News reached out to the company that operates the tour boat, but it declined to comment.

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